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ZOOL101 - Introduction to Zoology - Martin

This guide is for students in David Martin's Zoology 101 class.

Scientific Primary Sources

Primary vs. Secondary Articles

Definitions of what is primary or secondary differs across the disciplines. For the sciences, this is how we would define the different types of sources:

Primary source literature in the sciences:

  • documents the results of original research

  • is written by those who have conducted the research

  • includes firsthand information about their methodologies, data, results, or conclusions.

Secondary source literature in the sciences:

  • summarizes, compares, critiques, or interprets the primary literature.

Tertiary sources in the sciences:

  • are collections of primary and/or secondary sources.

Characteristics of primary sources in the sciences include:

  • Report original research, ideas, or scientific discoveries for the first time

  • Report results/findings/data from experiments or research studies

  • May also be referred to as primary research, primary articles, or research studies

  • DO NOT include meta-analyses, systematic reviews, or literature reviews - these are secondary sources

  • Are frequently found in peer-reviewed or scholarly journals

  • Should explain the research methodology used (randomized controlled trial, etc)

  • Frequently include methods, results, and discussion sections

  • Are factual, not interpretive

Flow of scientific information diagram